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Utility billing office shutdown due to covid-related concerns

by Marc Hayot | December 6, 2020 at 10:40 a.m.
City Hall

Siloam Springs' utility billing department shut down temporarily due to covid related isolation and quarantine, said City Administrator Phillip Patterson during the city board meeting on Tuesday.

The billing department will be closed beginning Dec. 2 to Dec. 11, Patterson said. The billing department will reopen on Dec. 14, according to a post on the city's website.

Patterson said he will bring in one employee who can process payments by phone and do some online work, but in order to do that, there cannot be any other employees in the billing office.

Due to the closure of the billing department, City Hall will be all but closed, Patterson said. Residents who have appointments will still be able to get into City Hall, Patterson said.

During the week-and-a-half the utility department will be closed, the city will go back to the same process it used in April during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Patterson said.

The city will not charge late fees or the three percent credit card fee, Patterson said. There will also not be any utility shut-offs during that time, Patterson said.

City residents will be able to make their utility payments by utilizing the drop box; mailing the payment in; or by paying their bills online, Patterson said.

Anyone needing to make cash payments may call the city at 479-524-5136 extension 1 and arrangements will be made for that person to come to City Hall and pay their bill, Patterson said.

This was a decision Patterson did not make lightly, he said. Patterson said he tried to keep City Hall open but did not have the staff to do it.

In order to be able to continue to take phone payments and do what is needed Patterson said he had to make a trade-off and that was having one person in the billing department but to keep them isolated.

"Throughout this pandemic we have not had too many incidences of covid affect the city operations, but this was one that did and I have to take the appropriate action," Patterson said.

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